Atira Rochester is the Corporate Relations Manager for Institute Diversity at Georgia Institute of Technology. She engages companies to fund programs and initiatives for underrepresented minority students and advises these students regarding their personal and professional development. Since joining Georgia Tech in 2010, Atira has served on LGBTQIA Resource Center Advisory Board and the Women of Georgia Tech Employee Resource Group.
Atira has experience in communications, diversity and inclusion, non-profit and educational programming, previously working with The Posse Foundation (Atlanta), Mastery Charter Schools (Philadelphia) and the Boys & Girls Clubs of Boston. Atira earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism from Clark Atlanta University and a Master of Arts in African American Studies from Temple University. She is a member of the Junior League of DeKalb County and previously served on the Youth V.I.B.E. Board of Directors. Atira enjoys making memories with her husband, daughter, and son.
Atira’s interview was conducted by AADO member Jeromie Tucker.
What motivated you to become a development professional?
Atira is a journalist (great writer) by training but found a rewarding joy after being exposed to the non-profit sector two years after college. Atira felt the development area was her greatest opportunity to grow the most, as well as her enjoyment of raising funds for underrepresented communities. After looking for a new role she found her current position as Corporate Relations Manager with Institute Diversity where she has served for six years. During her tenure, she found herself motivated by the students and the success they had both during and post college. She feels that there is still a need for her service and this keeps her motivated to continue in her current capacity.
What is your biggest accomplishment as a development officer?
Early in her career, there was some natural attrition among corporate donors given the economic state. During the ebbs and flows came her great accomplishment of having the ability to maintain the relationships and funding with their trusted corporate partners.
What inspires you about the development profession?
Atira’s inspiration about the development profession is strongly driven by the idea of always having an opportunity to make a difference and impact students. This inspiration is succinctly in alignment with part of her motivation of fulfilling the need and utilizing her services. The impact she has on the lives of the students she helps continues to create a burning desire to do more.
What advice would you give to a fundraising professional mentee?
The fundraising advice Atira would share with a mentee would first to be a good listener. This will allow the fundraiser to make the connection points and understand the affinity of your donors. Secondly, don’t burn any bridges as someday a previous coworker, student, etc. may be your biggest donor or your connection to your biggest donor. Lastly, you must have a high-level work ethic and be willing to do the necessary activity to build strong relationships and be committed to your work.